By Hyung-jin Kim, Kim Tong-Hyung and Jon Gambrell | Related Press
SEOUL, South Korea — Hamas fighters possible fired North Korean weapons throughout their Oct. 7 assault on Israel, a militant video and weapons seized by Israel present, regardless of Pyongyang’s denials that it arms the militant group.
South Korean officers, two consultants on North Korean arms and an Related Press evaluation of weapons captured on the battlefield by Israel level towards Hamas utilizing Pyongyang’s F-7 rocket-propelled grenade, a shoulder-fired weapon that fighters usually use in opposition to armored autos.
The proof shines a lightweight on the murky world of the illicit arms shipments that sanction-battered North Korea makes use of as a option to fund its personal typical and nuclear weapons packages.
Rocket-propelled grenade launchers fireplace a single warhead and might be shortly reloaded, making them precious weapons for guerrilla forces in working skirmishes with heavy autos. The F-7 has been documented in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon and the Gaza Strip, mentioned N.R. Jenzen-Jones, a weapons professional who works because the director of the consultancy Armament Analysis Companies.
“North Korea has lengthy supported Palestinian militant teams, and North Korean arms have beforehand been documented amongst interdicted provides,” Jenzen-Jones advised the AP.
Hamas has revealed photographs of their fighters with a launcher with a rocket-propelled grenade with a particular purple stripe throughout its warhead, and different design parts matching the F-7, mentioned Matt Schroeder, a senior researcher with Small Arms Survey who wrote a information to Pyongyang’s gentle weapons.
“It isn’t a shock to see North Korean weapons with Hamas,” Schroeder mentioned.
The North Korean F-7 resembles the extra broadly distributed Soviet-era RPG-7 rocket-propelled grenade, with a couple of noticeable variations. Jenzen-Jones described the F-7 rocket-propelled grenade as “supposed to supply a deadly impact in opposition to personnel” given its form and payload, reasonably than armored autos.
Weapons seized by the Israeli navy and proven to journalists additionally included that purple stripe and different design parts matching the F-7.
In a background briefing with journalists Tuesday, South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Employees particularly recognized the F-7 as one of many North Korean weapons it believed Hamas used within the assault. The Israeli navy declined to reply questions from the AP concerning the origin and the producer of these rocket-propelled grenades, saying the continued warfare with Hamas prevented it from responding.
North Korea’s mission to the United Nations didn’t reply to a request for remark from the AP. Nonetheless, Pyongyang final week via its state-run KCNA information company dismissed claims that Hamas used its weapons as “a groundless and false rumor” orchestrated by the USA.
Hamas propaganda movies and images beforehand have proven its fighters with North Korea’s Bulsae guided anti-tank missile. Jenzen-Jones mentioned he believed, based mostly on imagery of the weapons wielded by Hamas fighters within the Oct. 7 assault, in addition they used North Korea’s Sort 58 self-loading rifle, a variant of the Kalashnikov assault rifle.
“Many North Korean weapons have been supplied by Iran to militant teams, and that is believed to be the first manner by which Palestinian militants have come to own North Korean weapons,” Jenzen-Jones mentioned.
Iran additionally has modeled a few of its ballistic missiles after North Korean variants.
Iran’s mission to the United Nations didn’t reply to a request for remark. Officers in Iran lengthy have supported Hamas and have praised their assault on Israel.
In December 2009, Thai authorities grounded a North Korean cargo airplane reportedly carrying 35 tons of typical arms, together with rockets and rocket-propelled grenades, because it made a refueling cease at a Bangkok airport. Thai officers then mentioned the weapons had been headed to Iran. The US later mentioned in 2012 the shipments interdicted by the Thais had been sure for Hamas.
North Korea additionally faces Western suspicions that it provides ammunition, artillery shells and rockets to Russia to help its warfare on Ukraine. The White Home mentioned final week that North Korea lately delivered greater than 1,000 containers of navy tools and munitions to Russia.
Gambrell reported from Jerusalem.